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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign



  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    True but you cannot get AWD and 8 passenger seating together.
  • aaron_taaron_t Posts: 301
    What do you drive now that makes you think you need AWD? Around here, 5+ inches of snow generally cancels school depending on how the roads are affected and timing relative to rush hours. No school? Don't bundle up 6 kids and venture outside for a day. Really, AWD is overrated for 90% of AWD owners.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    My niece has an 8 passenger 1996 Astro AWD and loves it...except for poor gas mileage on the road where her father-in-law's Suburban got better gas mileage. :confuse: The AWD is most appreciated October to April when it snows.
    Her sister-in-law has a 2005 Odd EX with 8 passenger seating but it is much more difficult to access the 3rd row seat in either the Odd EX or Suburban. The Astro has more cargo space behind the 3rd row than the Odd EX but less than the Suburban. :blush:
  • macakavamacakava Posts: 775
    If Astro/Safari were be continued to be built, GM would be much closer to bankruptcy! GM realized that these 30+ year designs were no match for the modern minivans(i.e. better alternatives) and made a good business ddecision. These drive like buses/unwieldy big boats, devoid of any steering/road feel.

    Having been left with no choice but an Astro for 2 past rentals at Enterprise, I can see why GM let them die peacefully!
  • Call me strange, but I have a hard time justifying buying a new van or even one that is just a few years old. I have two Toyota Previas; bought both for around 4k each. Original owners, all paperwork. The cost of owning these (factoring in occasional repair) is significantly lower than a new van. I have no payment, and how much can a 10 year old van depreciate in one year? Even if I have to put in $1k a year in repairs (which is unlikely), it is much less than 12 payments at $250 each. The key is to avoid one that someone is trying to get rid off because of problems. The only problem is that older vans lack the new gadgets that are a necessity for some. This is a different approach, but can be smart.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    And my niece prefers the 8 passenger Astro AWD over the 8 passenger Odd EX where the 8th seat is a padded armrest. Much easier to access 3rd row seat in the Astro and there is MUCH more cargo space in the Astro than her sister-in-law's Odd EX. ;) She has closely compared the 2 vehicles.
    She has no interest in drag racing up the on ramps BUT the AWD was very nice for her teen age daughter to drive out of the school parking lot when the snow and ice was stopping all other vehicles. :blush:
    BTW, my niece has owned a Honda Civic for many years and likes it as a fuel efficient run-around-town car. Her husband prefers the same age Olds Cutlass with Quad 4 engine over the Honda Civic for his 100 mile daily commute.
  • Ladies and Gents,

    Went perusing three days ago for a minivan replacement for our 99 Windstar (which has been very bulletproof BTW). On our van we wanted heated leather, DVD, Good stereo, power sliders, 4 wheel discs with ABS and Stability control at a minimum. Started at the Honda dealer;


    Pompous dealers - acted like I was doing them a favor for checking out their van and asking for a testdrive. The powertrain of the van was excellent with some nice interior details and tricks. Really liked the fold down split 3rd seat. We took out an EXL and I liked driving it. It seemed to handle well. I asked about DVD and was told its available as a 1700.00 option. Total price would be around least 33K and they sell close to retail, hhhhmmmmmmmmm.


    Dealer experience similar to Honda - whats with these guys? The Toyota we drove was an XLE to get all the options we wanted. Around 34K. Powertrain was nice, not as snappy as the Honda. Van rode very smooth and quiet, but handling was very soft and soggy - didn't feel as buttoned down as the Honda. Tight turning circle, nice seats, and good stereo system. Still no DVD at this price?


    Dealer treated me like a guest. He couldn't do enough for me! I Asked for a test drive and he gave me the van for the day........WOW. I took out a loaded Relay 3. Every option on the list except all wheel drive. Including Onstar, DVD, Heated leather, 17 inch wheels, Power sliders, Awesome stereo, 4 wheel disc, ABS and stability, cool reverse sensing system, rail storage system, trailer package Driver info center, beautiful gauge package and more. Van drove great, more firm than the Toyota and less than the Honda. Driving position was excellent. Seats in all positions were large and comfy (as were all 3 vans). Powertrain was competent and smooth, although with noticibly less oomph than the other 2. It was far from lacking in power though. Kids loved the DVD! Only "downside " is the rear seats - they dont fold back and flat as the others, but can form a flat load floor none the less. Went back to the dealer and he said the MSRP was 30,700.

    I wasn't sure if the difference in price was worth it. He then said BTW they now have 8k off the price. WOW!! Loaded for 22K - Youre kidding me!? Wife signed the papers and it's in the garage now. We're very happy!

    All the vans were nice, but value wise between the 3 - no contest - and I found I prefer the SUV look vs. the Rocket boy styling of the other 2. Great experience - I'll keep you updated. Thoughts?
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    I'm not going to call you stange st-moyer. I use to be the same way(no...not strange) , frugal with my purchases.It is a smart approach though.

    I had a 1979 Olds Cutlass Supreme I bought used(was in excellent condition)in 1990(roughly) for $1,500. Sold it 7 years later for $800. Had almost no problems. Replaced a few wear items, starter, tires, battery, brakes, exhaust...was extremely reliable.

    On our new minivan purchase, we were going to buy a 3 or 4 year old vehilce. But, for 5k more than the used minivans we were looking at, we were able to buy a new 04 Mazda MPV.
    If it starts when you turn the key, and brings you home safely...well...everything else is just icing on the cake.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ALL members and hosts of Edmunds.
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    I had a 2003 Olds Silhouette, a step-sister to your Relay. The Olds rode nice and was reliable but was a poorly constructed rattle trap. Consumer Reports said about the same for the 2005 model it tested in March (I thought it was a Relay). I don't care what you pay for a van. These days a vehicle should be well constructed with good fit and finish. If Kia can do it with their 2006 Rio why can't GM on a $23,000 van. One other thing: I hope you are planning on keeping this Relay for a long time otherwise you are going to find out how worthless it is as a trade. My '03 Silhouette cost $29,000 new but current trade in is around $9,000. You really do get what you pay for.

    In October I purchased an '06 Odyssey EX-L. I cannot say my shopping experience was like the one you describe. The Honda and Toyota dealers were both friendly and helpful. The Honda salesmen (I dealt with three over three months) all knew the product inside and out. They were grateful for my business. Sure, I paid $28,750 for my new van but I got ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. Also, stability control and head curtain airbags plus a sunroof. In three years my Odyssey will still be worth $17,000+

    Good luck and enjoy the relay. It should prove reliable.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345

    Hey, you're why care what we think? ;)

    But, since you asked, it sounds like you got a very good vehicle at a great price. Don't think you can ask for more than that. Congratulations!

    I too like the SUV look in the GM vans over the traditional minivan look. My brother has the Pontiac Montana with Onstar and he loves it. The Onstar system is pretty cool...and is a nice saftey feature as well. Rear seats that fold flat is not really a big deal.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    You have got to be kidding me.

    $22,000 for a loaded Relay, despite all its bugs, is still a good value.

    And in my case it would leave a good chunk of change for other purposes...

    I would be happy with a Relay too if it came into my garage for $22,000.... Not so sure about a Sienna coming in at $38,000 though, or an Odyssey coming in at $33,000.

    I wonder how much extra Buick wants for the Terraza after all applicable rebates.

    Was your Relay a 2005 or 2006 model?
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    CONGRATULATIONS on your new minivan. Agree with jipster that you're happy, why care about what others think. :blush:
    Your experience with arrogant Honda and Toyota dealers was less satisfying than mine when I have looked at the Odyssey and Sienna.
    FORGET about depreciation. Unless you want to trade in a year or two, you will incur less depreciation than had you purchased the $ 33K Odd or $ 34K Sienna.
    Lastly, your experience is a vivid reminder of why people purchase a minivan other than a Sienna or an Odyssey. ;) ;)
  • It sounds like you got a great deal! You also have the best safety feature offered by any company, Onstar. My niece was involved in a head-on crash, air bags went off, but she wasn't hurt. Onstar ask if she was ok or needed an ambulance, she said that she was ok, but the driver of the other car needed medical assistance right away, so Onstar might have saved the day for that person.

    Enjoy your Relay, you are one smart person.
  • The Relay is an 05'model with everything on it. It seems very solid, the driveline very smooth and the seats are very comfortable. I'm impressed with the overall package and am ecstatic about the onstar! It really brings peace of mind knowing my wife has it with the kids in the vehicle. Why other companys don't offer anything similar is beyond me..........If this van were an import it would list for 35K! We're very happy!
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    Excuse me but I had a $33,000 GM van (MSRP) and it depreciated to $9,000 in three years. The $28,000 Honda is still worth $15,000+ in trade after three years. Most people do not keep cars more than five years. That is an easy statistic to verify.

    As I had previously posted, I did an opinion survey (for which I was paid)in October, 2004 for minivans. At the time I still owned my GM van with no intention of trading. I drove a fully loaded model of each of the following , all with less than 500 miles: Freestar, Relay, Town and Country and Odyssey. There was simply no comparison between the Odyssey and the other three. It was just superior in every way. The test drive was the catalyst in my buying an '06 Odyssey. The Relay had the next best ride but is squeaked and rattled just as did my two year old van. I too had Onstar and kept paying for the service after the one free year was up.

    When I decided to buy a new van and started shopping every dealer told me that the GM rebates would come up and bite me and it did. A $22,000 van is going to depreciate the same percentage as the same model without the rebate. So, if the rate is 40% the first year you would lose $8,800 when you drove it off the dealer's lot. The depreciation is based on the selling or market price not the MSRP.

    I did not come on here to demean someone's purchase but we WERE asked for our opinion.
  • macakavamacakava Posts: 775
    "There was simply no comparison between the Odyssey and the other three. It was just superior in every way. The test drive was the catalyst in my buying an '06 Odyssey."

    AGREE 100%!

    My almost 100 minivan rentals have included a few Terrazas, Uplanders, and Montanas, from which the Relay is a derivative. These are absolutely not in the same performance(handling, road feel, energetic feeling, etc) class as the Ody.

    The appearance of these vehicles are "spooky" to me. It appears to look like a mixed breed (SUV and minivan) that has gone wrong - it turned out to be bad/wierd looking(i.e. like a ware wolf). It does not know what it is exactly. Maybe the Astec designer had some influence in the design??

    Since then I have been choosing the DGC/T & C over these GM vehicles in the rental car lots, when Siennas are not available. The DGC/T & C is a better perfoming vehicle than these GM minivans.

    GM and Ford are trailing the minivan segment in a very embarassing way. Besides car rentals, GM is probably moving these mostly to GM employees or retirees at employee discounts. GM should give up the minivan segment - it may help keep them away from bankruptcy longer. Kervokian's recent sale of a few million GM shares is a good sign. Stay tuned!
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    The Sienna had better performance than the Odyssey...which surprised me after reading the glowing reports about the Odyssey. I have NOT driven any minivan but the Astro, Grand Caravan, Odyssey, Town & Country, and Sienna.
    The Sienna LE (cloth) interior looks and feels superior to the Odyssey EX (cloth) and GC SXT (cloth) and is also the quietest of all. ;) Being a Toyota, it also has the best reliability.
    The Astro has THE most cargo space and has the easiest access to the 3rd row of the 8 passenger vans and the 4.3L V6 had the MOST torque of any minivan. It is a real TRUCK with truck durability but also has the truck feeling. People who prefer trucks prefer the Astro. :blush:
  • No doubt you two have valid opinions. But to say that the Toyota and Honda are "Clearly Superior in every way" is a misnomer to the highest degree. :confuse:

    My Relay is very tight and rattle free. I live in Minnesota and the Roads are very rough. If it had rattles, I would know! Also the 2 Japanese vans have eclectic dashboards, like someone was trying to be too artistic with them. The Relay has a simple and elegant dash - very pleasing to look at and use. The Relay's interior is also equal to the others in ride quietness - It's hard to even hear tire noise, and seat comfort with the 4 captains chairs is best of all.

    Does the Odyssey have a better drive train - Yes, but only because it has 40 HP more. It is not smoother and it's transmission is not superior. The Toyota handles very slushy and I would not feel very good in abrupt avoidance maneuvers in it.

    Spec to Spec, my van took a 12-14 K less chunk of change out of my pocketbook than the Toyota and Honda- thats not chump change for most people! We're talking real dollars! And what is the Toy or Honda doing 12-14K better than the Relay? I really can't think of anything for that cash outlay? I couldn't give a rip about depreciation, I keep my vehicles 7-10 years and replace them.

    Given that, I still think the Honda and Toyota are great vehicles, but not for the extra cash that dealers demand for them. :confuse:
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    Well, we each are entitled to buy what our purse and taste permits. My Silhouette was quiet for the first couple of thousand miles then the rattles and squeaks began. There is no way the four speed tranny with that engine is as smooth or refined as the Odyssey. My wife, as far from a car expert as Pluto is from Earth, noticed it on the test drive and continues to say how different the two were. In my opinion panel back-to-back test drives last year it was immediately evident. The Relay is much smaller than the other vans as well. Basically it is an eight year old design with a new nose.

    BTW: GM announced that the Doraville, GA assembly line where the Relay, Outlander, Montana SV6 and Terraza are made is closing. GM will assemble its next generation of minivans elsewhere.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    could be good for bargain minded shoppers like me as when they stop production, deals will be all over the place.
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